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Is it too soon for what ifs?

After the recent run of good results, I found myself wondering "what if?" As an Evertonian for nearly 40 years, it has become an annual pasttime, at this time of year. But this season, it has felt slightly different. In previous years, there was always a sense of inevitability that we would fall short, the occasional flirting with top four, and even European qualification, were pleasant distractions, but by this time every season, those hopes seemed to be dashed. But this year I found myself thinking we had wasted our chance in the early part of the season, and what if it had been a little different.

My uneducated feeling was that we dropped a disproportional amount of points in the first part of the season and our push for the top four was now suffering as a result. But after trawling through the results from the season to see where we had dropped points, I was quite surprised. After 10 games we had dropped 11 points, after 20 games we had dropped another 11 points and after 30 games we had dropped another 11 points. So basically, a point per game, and spread evenly over the season. But the stats didn't line up with my feelings that we lost our opportunity early on, so I tried again. As they say, you can make stats suits any argument and I wanted the stats to agree with my suspicions that we dropped more points early on, when the team were still "learning" RM's new system.

So I split the season into quarters: after 9 games, we dropped 9 points; after 18, we dropped had dropped a further 11; after 27, we had dropped a further 13 points. Far from supporting my suspicions, the stats were saying the total opposite.

I invite you to interpret the stats, but for me they are saying, whist we were learning the new system, we did okay, when we had a few injuries we did a lot worse. So my (hopeful) conclusion, is that with a fit and fairly fresh squad, who now know the new system pretty well, we should be able to finish the season strongly. Up to now we have dropped, on average one point per game, but the fact that we have won the last 5 games shouldn't be ignored.

What's my point? That it is too soon for that "what if" because this season we still have 7 games left and it all to play for. We haven't lost our opportunity this season, the opportunity is still there to be grasped, and current form suggest that we have the momentum to make it happen. COYB.


Andy Osborne     Posted 31/03/2014 at    Comments (34)

Time for fans to deliver

The players and manager have on most occasions delivered this season. While the away support has been brilliant there have been times this season when Goodison has been a little quiet.

Most of us expected this to be a transition season where we would have accepted a top 10 finish, and given the new manager time to assess what he would need to improve the team for the following season.

But what he has achieved is nothing short of brilliant in his first season. So, for the remaining games, it is time for us fans to show that we can deliver, and show that it doesn't have to be a night game for the atmosphere at Goodison Park to be electric. I think Evertonians follow the team with our heart but, for the remaining games, we need our voices as well as our hearts.
Brian Harrison     Posted 31/03/2014 at 15:04:53   Comments (30)

Potential Difference

Recent posts got me thinking about tactics, lone strikers and the 'square pegging'/ versatility (?) of various players over the years. Being no genius myself, I'd welcome your views:

Who do you consider our most tactically astute manager (on field), in the modern era?

All other things being equal, which players would have excelled under a different boss?

I realise it's part speculation, but am curious to hear from those with a better grasp on these things.

Onwards and upwards! COYB :-)


Rob Newling     Posted 31/03/2014 at 12:48:04   Comments (0)

Richard Scudamore

The Chief Executive of the Premier League has been quoted claiming that Manchester United's travails this season are bad for the 'brand' around the world. Frankly, I think this is a disgraceful comment coming from the head of the League who is supposed to be acting in the interest of ALL its clubs, not just an elite few.

The only conclusion that could be drawn from his comment is that it should be celebrated if Man Utd, and their like in the Sky 4, monopolise all of the prizes because this in itself results in a more attractive television rights package somewhere in the Far East, presumably therefore meaning that some of this income will trickle down to makeweight clubs like our own.

Indeed, to ensure that proper order is re-established, perhaps clubs like ours should formally attach ourselves as feeder clubs to Man Utd, ensuring that the talent we bring through the ranks is dispatched to Old Trafford poste haste, to help cement their rightful place at the top.

Ross, get your coat.

Our league's attraction is in it's ability to surprise, and we should be celebrating the fact that Man Utd have already lost at home 6 times this year, despite all their money and support in the media (and now apparently from the top of the Premier League too). I for one would love our club – and others in all honesty – to gate crash the glass ceiling of the top 4, so that we can enjoy some of the trappings of the wealth that Champions League football would bring for a change.

Man Utd don't need any more help. They've got sponsors falling over themselves to throw money at them, so called 'fans' in the Far East cooing at their every move, and a press and media at home who are wringing their hands in frustration at their inability to get back to 'where they belong'. Fuck off the lot of you.
Peter Morris     Posted 28/03/2014 at 16:21:17   Comments (17)

Talk of a new stadium

The following account has recently been published following a meeting between the Club and Everton Shareholders Association with Robert Elstone at Finch Farm.

There was a very brief discussion concerning progress of a proposed new stadium during which Mr Elstone confirmed that discussions were ongoing with the Council and potential partners. There is a favoured site, about which he’s excited, but he wasn’t (obviously) able to confirm our views as to where it might be.

The Club is working with leading architects who in turn are working to the general brief of creating an atmospheric stadium. One key element of the brief is for fans to be as close to the pitch as possible, with a defined home end. The main stand should be of a high standard and including all the necessary corporate and hospitality facilities. Mr Elstone also confirmed that the Club will not be using the design from the Destination Kirkby proposals but a completely new design.

The issue, as ever, looks to be at the early stages without any mention of the funding required to realise such an ambition... anyone got any idea though where the potential site could be? (Stop sniggering at the back!)


Peter Laing     Posted 28/03/2014 at 11:45:11   Comments (29)

Martinez: The 'Do or Die' Factor

It’s the end of February. Everton have only won once in their last five games, losing three and drawing in a dull game with struggling West Brom. Any Evertonian maintaining even the slightest hope of Champions League qualification would have been sectioned.

One month and four straight league wins later, and suddenly we Evertonians are happy to shout about our game in hand, the upcoming home game against rivals Arsenal, our new found and exciting attacking dynamic. Fourth spot is not just a dream or a mathematical possibility – it’s within reach. Everything has changed.

Shouldn’t we have seen this coming? Cast your minds back to April 2012. Wigan, under Martinez, are 19th with only six games remaining. Inept pundits have unanimously condemned Wigan to fail, claiming that the club’s relegation is inevitable. No one was giving Wigan a chance.

Come the end of the season, having won five out of their last six games, including a win against Manchester United (when they were good – remember that?) which Martinez unsurprisingly described as “magnificent”, Wigan were very much safe. The outspoken Match of the Day pundits who had ridiculed Wigan’s chances of survival begrudgingly praised the club’s “spirit” (whatever that means) and the club was able to celebrate a crucially successful final run-in.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened either. Go back as far as the 2010-11 season and an away win at Stoke on the final day of the season was all that kept Wigan from a tumble into the Championship. It was the first time in two years that Wigan had achieved back-to-back league wins, and what a time to do it.

What a time to do it.

Mr Martinez is clearly a master of timing, having proved with Wigan just how good he is at getting his players to perform when they really need to. Who knows, he might even have kept Wigan up last year if it hadn’t been for the distraction of the FA Cup.

Let’s believe in Roberto “We showed magnificent character” Martinez, because I don’t think there’s a manager in the world I’d prefer to have for these crucial final 8 games in the run-in for a Champions League spot.

Champions League? You’re ‘avin a laugh!


Oscar Huglin     Posted 26/03/2014 at 15:26:42   Comments (16)

How we can measure this season

A few posters have recently stated that points totals are not really a true measure of how we have performed this season. Without wanting to get into that particular discussion, I thought I would try and research a few of our records since Sky invented football in the 1992/93 season a.k.a The Premier League.

Hopefully, if we can produce a storming finish to this campaign, the team of 2013/14 can set a few records of their own!

  1. We are all well aware of this one, our record points haul in 2007/08 of 65. It will be tight, but that is certainly achievable. We are currently acquiring 1.86 points per game so that would put us on course for 70 points this season (slightly rounded down). Some very tough games ahead, though.
  2. Best Goal difference: That was also achieved in the 2007/08 season with the Blues finishing on +22. We are on +13 as it stands, so another 10 goal swing in our favour needed there.
  3. Losses: Mr Moyes certainly did well in his last season with us, we only lost 7 games all season. We currently have lost 5 so far this term, that one could go either way!
  4. This one may be the best indicator of all for me. That is points we end up behind the eventual League winners. It may surprise a few, that record was set by a certain Mr. Joe Royle with his side in 1995/96. We finished 21 points behind the eventual winners Manchester Utd, who won the League title with 82 points. Today we sit 15 points off the top, with two games in hand over the leaders Chelsea. That has to be well within reach with a decent run in, and only a collapse would see us finishing more than 20 points behind the title winners.
  5. Goals conceded. We sure had a mean defence in 2007/08 with the Toffees conceding a miserly 33 goals all season. With 30 goals conceded already, that record is safe.
  6. Goals scored. Our Premier League record stands at 64 for Joe's side in 1995/96. No chance of surpassing that this season you would have thought. We have hit the net 43 times so far, with 9 to play so that record should remain unbroken come the end of the season.
  7. The most important statistic of all: our highest ever finish, 4th. I'm not throwing the towel in just yet, but these next two away games against Newcastle and Fulham will either set us up for a grandstand finish, or see us in a fight with Man Utd and Spurs for a Europa league place.

Latest odds for a top 4 finish ; Us and Spurs around 11/1 with Man Utd trailing at up to 28/1.

It's not over yet Folks!


Kevin Tully     Posted 24/03/2014 at 14:48:42   Comments (35)

The 'Phenomenal' Remarks

I like Roberto – I really do, and find it hard to be negative when he’s around or talking up our young ones, our style of play, our club‘s history, our fans... All wonderful stuff, with lots of big words like 'phenomenal' and 'remarkable' and 'diamonds' and 'gems'.

This is EFC we are talking about, isn’t it? Were we not born to sing the blues? Royal blue blood is always a sign of a cross to carry, a social cause, a burden... And now, after years of defensive and at times negative tactics, fearfulness, lack of self esteem – but lots of hope (oh how we love hope) – now we have to get used to being bold, young brazen footballing gems, playing in the right direction with loads of possession. Our players are being talked up by the gaffer, and even the press are buying it.

Does that mean we have to buy into this remarkable sense of phenomenal optimism too? 'Phenomenal' is a big word, like 'marmelade' which I could hardly even pronounce let alone spell for a long time. Yes, please speak positively about our players Roberto, and give them backing in public... but, now and again, I’d like someone to tear into the likes of Mirallas or Lukaku or Pienaar or …. now I’ve run out of names for some reason…

Well 3 out of 11 isn’t bad, methinks…. Means the rest of them must be doing something right! And it’s nice to see people not getting on the back of young lads like Stones after a dodgy performance yesterday, because the talent is there and so too our hope. But sometimes all the positivity does go OTT. Roberto, sorry to say, but we were quite poor on Saturday – and lucky to escape with anything.

Funnily enough, only two teams in the PL have conceded fewer goals than us – mostly thanks to the Barry-McCarthy axis. But is it not time to get McCarthy forward more, supporting the front rather than the competent back line? Since Arteta left and Osman is going grey, we have too little in midfield in terms of strength, tacking, control and creativity – I think James McCarthy can take on a lot of that and leave the defence to deal with the rest.

It’s the next step, Roberto, the missing link – and when it’s in place, I might start to believe the champagne glass half-full stuff. For now, I remain a blue: never satisfied, always hopeful.


Kevin O'Regan     Posted 24/03/2014 at 12:42:09   Comments (30)

The Europa League

I'm one of those fans who is genuinely hoping that we qualify for the Europa League next season.

I know it has it's down sides. I heard a radio commentator say a couple of weeks ago that Spurs were going to have played 15 games, over a third of a league campaign, to get to where they did. I know that we will not generate that much cash out of the competition either, unless we win it outright and qualify for the Champions League. I know that it would also put a strain on our squad.

But, for me, there would be huge benefits from us being in the competition next season. The biggest one is the timing of it. Roberto Martinez, as a new manager, is currently trying to impose his own philosophy on the club. By the time the competition starts next season, he will have had his first season out of the way. He can use the Europa League as a way of developing his style of football further against continental opposition.

Martinez can also use the competition to rotate the squad, rest our more important players, and give younger players such as Stones, Duffy and Lundstram proper game-time in an Everton shirt. Next season is the time when they should be stepping up a level. If, at the end of next season, the younger players have had 15 to 20 games each to develop into senior players, then it will take the pressure off the club in terms of transfer funds. It will also have developed the squad as the season progresses. This in turn will help in terms of being able to rest players as we get to the business end of the Premier League campaign.

In truth, their is a part of me that is just eager to see us play in Europe. Some of the Irish TV channels show the Europa League. When I have had the time to watch it this season, I have been thinking about how good it would be to see us playing a European competition on the telly. It's a little childish, I know, but it would give me a genuine lift. I think that, for all the down sides to the competition, being in it would give all of us a lift. There has been so much negativity in recent seasons that having something like this to look forward to would really do the club as a whole good.

Also, while winning the competition would obviously be brilliant, for me, it is more about Martinez using it as an extra way of getting the most out of his second season at the club.


Kieran Fitzgerald     Posted 24/03/2014 at 09:47:16   Comments (21)

When We Were Fab!

To all those supporters who give out that "Be careful what you wish for" message, perhaps we should all wish for a person who is a decade or two ahead of their time.

Whilst researching some stuff for Memory Lane, I found this piece in the Sheffield United programme from February 1964 and an extract is included below:

A CLUB WELL IN THE NEWS

Open the newspapers almost any day and it's a safe bet there will be some mention of Everton, Goodison Park, millionaire chairman John Moores, manager Harry Catterick, one or more of the players or the doings of the Merseysiders' supporters. They all certainly make a steady flow of news items. As far back as 4th September last year it was reported tht Everton's spending spree ha reached the fantastic figure of £426,000 with an estimated £28,000 paid to Partick Thistle for full-back Sandy Brown, who was the 17th player they had bought since 1960. Last season, when they won the League Championship, their receipts were a record £190,000 but, having spent £84,000 on new players, their loss on the year was £19,000…..

….Mr. Moores' plan to secure Continental stars for his team even if it cost £200,000 a head was received with mixed feelings. The Players Union said there was no objection to the importation of Brazilians, Argentinians, Italians and Spaniards, but the Football League secretary, Mr Alan Hardaker, said a Management Committee resolution was against it. In any case the Ministry of Labour has a ban on foreign players and refuses to grant work permits. But if the matter can be pursued, Mr Moores is the man to do it.

Perhaps somebody with the knowledge of the relative values could convert the figures into today's values to compare it to those Sky favourites.

It seems to me that in 1964 Everton were seen as spoiling the game for many, not on the pitch, but off it and found themselves on the wrong-side of the establishment. Today we don't have the finances to be part of the establishment – it's a funny old game football. We know our history but it could and should have been oh so much better, everything is about timing and Everton FC for all their achievements on and off the pitch often seem to be on the wrong side of history.


Patrick Murphy     Posted 23/03/2014 at 17:45:17   Comments (9)

Problems so far

I think Everton this season have done pretty well up to now, considering nearly all the media were saying we would be lucky to get in to the top half of the table without OFM. I think it's safe to say we all knew that we did have some quality in the side and under Martinez we seem to be kicking on, playing more consistent an playing some good football.

The problems so far that have really annoyed me are the attacking front 4. I really don't think lukaku is worth the 20+ million price tag. He can't go past a player, hold the ball up, and never seems to win a header or hold the ball up when the ball is punted up to him and his first touch is awful. If Everton did have 20 million to throw away then I would rather it go on a player that is proven.

I would say he is worth between 10 to 13 million but nothing more. Yes, he will get you goals as he has done this season and, yes, he is a good striker. He has a lot of potential but whether he will become a world class striker is another matter.

I think its time for Steven Pienaar to be moved into the attacking midfield role because he seem's to be the only forward payer that fucking passes the ball and can put a threw ball in so the likes of Lukaku can run on too them. Every time Barkley, Mirallas or Deulofeu get the ball they seem to want to go past the whole defence or try and shoot from impossible angles or from 30 yards out.

The amount of times Lukaku has been in acres of space and no one has seen him to put a ball in for him or decided it's better to shoot is unreal they just all seem to all be glory hunters.

The crossing this season has been terrible from corners, set pieces and even open play they have been really shocking. I think if they were more of a unit they really would have the ability to be amazing but I don't think we will see much of it this season.

We need at least 2 permanent strikers and an attacking midfielder in the summer I think Remy, Bony and/or Batshuayi would suit us perfectly even Lewis Holtby would be a good addition he can cover as an defensive mid as well. But I doubt that will happen in the summer though as blue bill is skint. To be 5th in the league at this moment in time is great when everyone around us have spent mega money if only he came a year sooner we would of been in the top four for sure last year because everyone was awful.

For my summer shopping list we need.

2 or 3 strikers as stated above
1 attacking midfielder as stated above
1 defensive midfielder maybe Mohamed Diame from west ham
1 central defender maybe Ashley Williams from Swansea, see what Duffy's like when he comes back, or dare I say it Lescott as a last resort.

And that's not even counting if we get into the Europa League!
Mark Johnson     Posted 23/03/2014 at 07:29:04   Comments (20)

Everton shirts in Chile. Where are they?

So I've lived my life in India, and I have never seen an Everton shirt in any store. That is acceptable given that only the "bigger" clubs have their matches televised and have the larger followings. I've always bought them online from the Everton store.

However, when I shifted to Santiago, Chile a few months ago, I was a bit expectant of this changing. Given that there is a club here called Everton Chile not more that 150km away who owe their name to the might blues, and that Chile is a football mad nation, I was pretty sure this would be a market where Everton would have some presence. Imagine my ire then when I went to a random store here and the first jersey I see is a red one with Standard Chartered plastered across the front! Even they are here!

I feel something should be done about this. Every sign is present here in Chile for this to be a market where we could do some much needed merchandising. How do we point the club in this direction? What can we do to get Everton to strengthen its presence overseas, not in countries like India maybe, but at least in a country that has a club named after us?!
Protik Roychowdhury     Posted 20/03/2014 at 20:48:10   Comments (19)

Record points haul?

So on March 17th we sit on 51pts through 28 games. With 10 games to go and 30 pts to play for, a maximum points haul of 81 is available. Our Premier League record total is 65 that came under Moyes in 2007-08 (our best finish of 4th we actually achieved with 61 pts). Under our former manager, we finished with 60 plus points on 4 occasions.

So, with the following fixtures to play, could this be our record points haul in the Premier League and possibly our best league season, in terms of points, since 1986-87? (We achieved 70pts in 1987-88 over 40 games, a points-per-game average of 1.75, 67 points this year would surpass that):

Swansea City (H)
Newcastle Utd (A)
Fulham (A)
Arsenal (H)
Sunderland (A)
Man Utd (H)
Southampton (A)
Man City (H)
Hull City (A)

If we do achieve a record points haul is this significant? Does it indicate progress? I wonder what unspoken target number of points Roberto had at the beginning of the season?

COYB
Rich Williams     Posted 17/03/2014 at 15:32:58   Comments (44)

Time for McGeady to shine

Following a great showing from the subs bench on Saturday it's now time for Aiden McGeady to start in the team and show us what he can do.

We looked much more of a threat going forward, he looked hungry and determined and he gave the Cardiff defence a torrid time with his running and skill on the ball. He now looks fully match fit and can breath extra life into the team going into the final games of the season. Kevin Mirallas on the other hand has been poor since his goal against Aston Villa and is generally very inconsistent anyway and would probably make a better impact from the bench than starting now.

Deulofeu on one wing and McGeady on the other would certainly give the opposition something to think about!
Chris Sillett     Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:54:26   Comments (16)

Space – the final frontier...

Many fans, myself included, have commented this season that both Baines and Coleman have not looked themselves; they almost seem frustrated and occasionally less than happy. Personally I would put this down to the shape of the team that RM chooses to play with most of the time.

At this point, I must say I thoroughly enjoy watching the Blues over what used to pass for football. Martinez's love of starting with two wide players, be it Deulofeu or Mirallas when both are fit, seems to disrupt what Baines and Coleman love to do which is get forward into wide positions. Watching yesterday's match, it was clear that, by starting two wide players who positioned themselves where you would expect them to, took away the space that Baines and Coleman love to exploit. It's not space any more if your players are there!

Both Deulofeu and Mirallas regularly fill up these spaces. When Pienaar plays, he never fills the space ahead of Baines but with Osman works Baines into the space. Yesterday, McGeady seems to understand the space concept better and in fact opened up the space for Coleman on the right by crossing the ball from the left.

I must admit, I would prefer Roberto Martinez not to start with two wide players and allow our attacking wide backs to do what they do best... which is to attack.

Maybe RM's reasoning is to beef up our defence by asking Coleman and Baines to play more defensively. The difference in our play recently is quite noticeable. The form of Baines and Coleman seems to have dipped by the more defence minded tactics that RM has chosen to play with.

Before ending, the goals yesterday both came from wide plays... one from Deulofeu who was playing wide and one from Coleman who arrived from a wide position. So it just shows that, in space, no-one can hear you scream because, if you were there, then there would be no space!


David Cooper     Posted 16/03/2014 at 09:02:20   Comments (17)

Slow Starters and Boring Blues?

When Gary Lineker mentioned that we have failed to score in the first half in 18 of our 28 games, it really got me thinking: it's an astonishing statistic. So I did a bit more digging and voila: It turns out we only score 30% of our goals in the first half.

Bobby’s Boys make us wait for our goals. On average, our first goal has arrived on the 59th minute this season. This is the longest among all teams in the Premier League. Even Crystal Palace, who have scored merely 19 times all season, score their first by the 47th minute.

Furthermore, so far, we have only scored 12 goals in the first half (conceding 11). The breakdown by the minutes are:

1 – 15 : Everton 4, Opponents 1
15 – 30: Everton 4, Opponents 5
30 – 45: Everton 4, Opponents 5
46 – 60: Everton 5, Opponents 4
61 – 75: Everton 9, Opponents 8
76 – 90: Everton 14, Opponents 5

Neck-to-neck except for the last 15 mins... In the last quarter, we are exceptional and among the top 2 or 3 in the league. Even before today’s game, Cardiff were one of the worst in terms of conceding last-quarter goals. So, winning in extra time against them wasn’t perhaps such an unexpected surprise considering we are the best in the league at scoring late and they are the worst in conceding late. Incidentally Fulham, who we play soon, are vulnerable in the last quarter as well...

Another additional stat that typifies our type of play is that we spend the highest amount of time level with the opposition in the entire Premier League. For 56.3 minutes per match, the score is 0-0 or 1-1 (I can’t remember us being 2-2 at all this season). No wonder I hear people comment that we are boring these days...

It is much more fun watching being in the lead or fighting back from being a goal down as the game opens up, tactically, after the first goal. Instead, we watch the hard arm-wrestle most of the time, where we seem to endlessly pass, and the opposition defends, probably with the plan to hit us on the counter.

Anyway, that’s one win out of eleven and 3 points out of 33. Our best-ever points haul in the Premier League era is 65 points and we stand now on 51 with 30 still to play for...

Let's try to beat it.
COYB


Nigel Gregson     Posted 16/03/2014 at 02:01:16   Comments (22)

The Goodison Problem

As I was perusing through all things football yesterday, I came upon an article on some Sports Branding site that said West Ham — yes, West Ham — were now the “Premier Branding Opportunity”!

Over the last two years, they have doubled their income from £42M to now £90M; they have got a full season-ticket book with also a huge waiting list; they have been able to increase their season-ticket prices by 15% for this season, and the same for 2014-15; their Commercial activities have grown in one year alone by 30% to now over £14M… and we all know why.

They will be moving into the Olympic Stadium in time for the 2106-17 season. Its capacity will be 56,000 (below only Man Utd and Arsenal) compared to 34,000 at Upton Park. The stadium will have 350 Corporate Boxes housing 3,500 people — compare that to our 10 boxes, with 100 people! They expect their revenue to multiplied by at least two to three times due to the pull of the Olympic Village for overseas visitors, and travellers — from UK and that’s a conservative estimate.

Wet Ham have now been placed already as 7th in Premier League for Marketing Opportunities and are likely to get higher by 2016. The top 6 clubs are Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Spurs, Newcastle. Everton are 10th following Aston Villa and Sunderland, with Stoke catching us up.

The effect of a new ground... Results and performances don’t seem to matter anymore.


Mike Oates     Posted 15/03/2014 at 12:13:11   Comments (35)

New ToffeeWebber

Hi all ToffeeWebbers and fellow EFC fans. I have been reading TW with great interest for a few years now and have really enjoyed reading everyone's comments, good or bad, about our great club.

I have finally decided to sign up to the site and offer some of my own opinions, although you may find me to be slightly biased towards our club and of the "glass half-full" rather than "glass half-empty" attitude.

Born and bred in Liverpool and I've lived here all my life. My first game at Goodison Park that I can remember was the game against Fulham when we won the league in 1963. Became a regular at home games from about 72-73 season up until 1980 when I was persuaded by a mate to play amateur football on Saturdays. At first I said No as thought I would miss going the match.

Eventually I agreed to play, thinking there would be no more than a handful of games before I packed it in. 14 years later and I was still playing Saturday football in the Liverpool Shipping League, then Saturday Business Houses, then the Old Boys League, and also Sunday League football in Liverpool Business Houses.

I packed in Saturday football at the start of the 94-95 season and got my season ticket in the Upper Gwladys Street, where I still sit today. I haven't missed a home game since, bar one, which was Huddersfield in the League Cup which I think was in 98-99 season. I also attend all away games, in fact during the last 12 years, I have missed the grand total of four away matches: two league and two league cup. I went to all our European away matches, with hopefully more to come. I'm sure though there are Everton fans out there who can beat my record.

My run however, is due to end as I will miss the home game versus Swansea and Newcastle away as I am away in Tenerife with the missus. Bad planning on my behalf as I thought there was an international break that week!!

Anyway that's me and EFC in a nutshell.
Rob Halligan     Posted 11/03/2014 at 19:09:55   Comments (58)

Style of play?

First, let me say I am Everton through and through, going to my first game at Goodison in 1963 and attending every game home and away during the 1969-70 season. I support Everton FC while player/managers come and go.

I have enjoyed this season to date but, since the Sunderland game, I think our style of play has been worked out by the opposing teams and things don’t look good! Is this what happened to Roberto at his other clubs? We keep the ball well in our own half unless the opposition pressurise our defenders and then our passing seems to be panicky. Teams are happy to sit back against us hitting us on the break and then with 2/3 passes they are in our area and it often looks as if we are going to concede. We, on the other hand, pass and pass and don’t seem to know what we are going to do next, especially when we are in the opposition area!

I look at our team and think we have some great players in Baines, Mirallas, McCarthy, Barry, Barkley, Lukaku, Distin, and Howard, plus some really promising talent in Coleman and Stones. I also like the look of McGeady, but are we playing to the strengths of these players? Often players like McCarthy and Barry will work their socks off to get the ball and pass it right or left. It will then get passed back to our defence, possibly out wide, where the opposition are happy to keep us.

Our game plan seems to be pass, pass, then cross into the penalty area where it becomes a 50/50 ball and, more often than not, we lose it. We then win it back pass, pass cross into the area... you get where I am coming from. This is Roberto's style of play with no Plan B!

My worry is that he will persist with this style of play without the investment of buying the quality players his system requires, ie, central defenders who are comfortable on the ball and midfielders who are of the same quality as Spanish/Brazilian national teams' midfielders! And if he does, I fear we will end up going the same way as his last club. I am concerned!


Kevin Dale     Posted 09/03/2014 at 13:55:31   Comments (23)

Arteta: Classless? Or an Over-reaction?

The idea of loyalty in football is one that has many different facets. The reaction of many to the Arteta incidents yesterday has once again opened up the debate as to what is acceptable and what is not from ex-players. After watching Arteta's pitiful attempt at feigning injury yesterday, coming after the flailing elbow at Gareth Barry, I feel it is unsurprising that many fans are critical of his attitude, but are we as fans getting a little sensitive?

Arteta was an excellent player for us, a creative force that we had not seen since Kanchelskis in my mind. Nevertheless he left and at the time many grumblings turned to the fact that he was not replaced rather than him being sold. Are fans hypocritical therefore with players 'moving on' — does a player need to keep that allegiance throughout his career?

I for one am not a fan of this 'not celebrating' phenomena in football. Arteta is an Arsenal player, sometimes captain. I think he would be doing his current employers a disservice if he did not celebrate surely? Does holding a badge to the home supporters constitute disrespect to Everton? Do some fans want a level of loyalty that they won't extend to players when the boot is on the other foot?

Mark Pierpoint     Posted 09/03/2014 at 12:21:01   Comments (35)

We are lacking inspiration

My problem with this team is that it just doesn't inspire. There is no one who gets you off your seat, no talisman to depend on, no iconic captain to get behind. It’s just got no personality or character. Everyone is best mates with each other and we play like a team of school prefects. Between them they don’t possess as much belief in their abilities as Big Dunc had in his on his own.

The thing that used to be great about Everton pre-2009 was that no matter how badly we were playing you could always hold some hope that if we were up for it we could get a big result. Big Dunc or Campbell would be inspired at Anfield, Cahill might smash one in, Gravesen might pretend to be Zidane and own everyone on the pitch. Since we lost the Cup Final though, it just feels like whoever is the manager whoever is playing, however well we’re playing, we wont win any game of consequence no matter what we do.

We started off blaming the refs: it was Collina, it was Clattenburg... then some blamed Moyes. When do we actually start to blame this group of players? They are in some ways so much more talented than their predecessors but are they a better team? No. There’s no difference finishing 7th or 15th if you can’t give your fans any hope.

Dan Gosling’s shot rippling the net was probably the last time I felt this Everton team were on the verge of something. Since then, it’s been seasons of grey devoid of inspiration with a few odd flashes of brilliance or a few odd home KITAP1s. I was hoping Martinez would come in and give us a shake but in some games he’s sent me to sleep.

I don’t want the McBarry axis to be the next Rodwell and Fellaini. I’m sick of these functional midfielders and wing forwards. I’m sick of these languid defenders who can’t deal with a high ball or these full backs that are out of position.

I want the midfield magicians and hatchet men back again. I want the Everton Number 9 back. I want a winger who will beat a man and hang one up on the back post for the striker to power in. I want the centreback who lashes it into Row Z then berates the first Everton player who dares question him for it. I want the iconic keeper who believed he was the best player in the world. That is my Everton.

This group of ball retainers who look like they’re at Bible Camp is not. I would give them endless chances if even only one of them gave everything and then looked like it meant something to them to lose. Instead, we’re even dignified and professional in our losing. Boring, boring, boring.
James  Martin     Posted 08/03/2014 at    Comments (36)

Are we too nice?

If I was asked to describe Roberto Martinez in one word, 'nice' would probably be the first that came to mind. Today got me thinking about how nice we are.

Was Roberto nice to Robles by playing him?

Twice we could have at least asked for a penalty — but we're too 'nice'

Was Baines too nice putting the ball out for Arteta to get treatment? — After the ref had waved play on!

We seem to lack what the pundits would call 'professionalism' — the top 4 have it in spades, which probably gains them a few points over the season.

Maybe Roberto needs to find his inner devil.
Adam Baig     Posted 08/03/2014 at 18:43:24   Comments (50)

Time for change

Although we passed it around quite well AGAIN, as a team we didn't really trouble their goalkeeper. Sounds like groundhog day – Chelsea and Spurs. To be honest I think teams have sussed us out.

This got me thinking although I was happy with the starting 11, do we really need to play two defensive midfielders in front of the back four? Most teams are only playing one up front with a number 10 behind supporting the forward or midfield.

Now this is going to surprise a lot of people but I would start with McCarthy and have Barry on the bench. This would give us the option of playing one more attacking player thus scope for more goals. My starting eleven would be: Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McGeady, McCarthy, Barkley, Deulofeu; Mirallas; Lukaku.

Instead of putting on forward players to try and save a game lets start positive and then bring on the likes of Barry to defend our lead. It's time we used the element of surprise. Otherwise we are gong back to the Moye's era played okay, unlucky to get beat but the same outcome.
Steve Gaskell     Posted 08/03/2014 at 16:40:52   Comments (16)

Everton miss out on my £50

Like most Evertonians, I am satisfied with what has been happening on the pitch. However, I do worry about some of the off-field antics of our club.

The other day, I went onto the Everton website to buy a kit for my son's birthday. His size was out of stock. Fair enough, I thought... so I emailed them to find out when they might be back in stock. The email was vague to say the least so I phoned customer services only to be told that they would not be getting anymore in until the new kit release next season. Okay, I thought, Everton have missed out on my £50.

Although I would rather the money go to Everton, I decided to have a look online to see if I could find one elsewhere. No chance. I could not find one anywhere. However, I could find kits for Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea etc. I had the same experience in the sports shop where they even had Newcastle kits for sale!

Is it me or are Everton missing a trick here? I know my £50 might not make a difference but I am sure I am not the only one wanting to buy a kit. In the end, my son was disappointed when I told him the news. After a while, he came around and said he would have a Man City kit instead.... very worrying.

In the end, we settled on a Brazil kit.

It is not only the fact that Everton are missing out on sales that bugs me — why, when I visit a sports shop, can I never see an Everton shirt (Kitbag I presume)? We get the top four rammed down our throats on the radio, tv and in sports shops. Could this ridiculous state of affairs be losing us young fans from outside of the city of Liverpool?


Joseph Bell     Posted 07/03/2014 at 20:47:09   Comments (6)

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